Customs House & Apartments

We are really excited to be offering these unique and quirky properties in Kalkan's historic Customs House, right in the heart of the old town and as close to the beach and harbour as you can get in Kalkan! A total of 15 people can be accommodated here, across the three dwellings.

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Kalkan's Customs House is traditionally painted a distinctive pink colour and is a well-known, treasured landmark in the town. The building, like its surroundings, is steeped in history (see below).

Being able to holiday in such an iconic, historic building is surely a rare privelege in itself; add to this the fact that its position is unrivalled in terms of proximity to the harbour, the beach and Kalkan's cobbled streets - with their myriad shops & boutiques, rooftop restaurants, bars & cafes - and you can see that a stay in one of these unique apartments is a unique experience and as such represents incredible value for money. 

Swimming pool? Err... no. (Except for "the largest pool in the world", a mere stone's throw away...)

For more information about the apartments, see the individual Property pages for the Main Customs House, Sonsuz and Pembe. But read on for...

The history

First of all: contrary to popular opinion, romantic press coverage and general Wiki-misinformation - Kalkan is not, and never was, a "fishing village!" Kalkan's origins can be traced back to ancient Lycia, when Herodotus said of the village "There is truly no place closer to the stars..."

But Kalkan really established itself as an important TRADING (not fishing!) port during the 19th century – more so than Fethiye or Antalya, its two larger modern neighbours.  It was settled around 200 years ago by people of both Greek and Turkish origin, under the Ottoman Empire, and was known by its Greek name “Kalamaki.” 

Camels brought goods to Kalkan from the nearby Xanthos valley and from as far away as the mountain highlands near Elmali. Cargo ships were then loaded in Kalkan’s harbour to sail for the far reaches of the Ottoman Empire carrying charcoal, silk (you can see many mulberry trees in Kalkan today), olive oil  - still produced in Kalkan - and wine, as well as cotton, grain, sesame seed, flour, grapes, acorns used for dye, and lumber from the vast cedar and pine forests.

By the early 20th century Kalkan had become quite a sizeable village.  At the turn of the century it had its own Custom’s House and in 1915 there were reportedly seventeen restaurants, a goldsmith, a shoemaker and several tailors. 

in 1923, a  population-exchange took place between the new Turkish Republic and Greece following the Turkish War of Independence.  Most of the people of Greek origin then living in Kalkan left Turkey.  Some went to the nearby Greek island of Meis, but most were resettled near Athens.  They were resettled as a community (like most Greek immigrants from Turkey) and named their new town “Kalamaki”, after Kalkan’s previous name.

Trading continued and the Customs House was in full use until sea trade faded away in the 1950’s due to the improvement of the Turkish road system and the adoption of overland transport. With no more sea trade, the population of Kalkan trickled away as people moved to larger coastal cities to find work.  Luckily, Kalkan was saved by the arrival of wealthy English yachtsmen in the 1960′s and tourism eventually became the main economy of Kalkan.  Because of this, Kalkan has retained its historic charm. 

Strict building and preservation codes are enforced and many of Kalkan’s buildings are listed - including the Customs House. This occupied such a prominenty place in Kalkan's history that the authorities insist the modern owners keep it that traditional pink colour; they also have to maintain its architectural integrity and maintain the Ottoman flag that is engraved on the decorative front "pediment" overlooking the sea.

This attention to historic detail surrounding the Customs House is symptomatic of the determination to keep Kalkan beautiful. Because of this, Kalkan has a special charm that is lacking in many other towns and ports along the Turquoise coast. That is probably why so many visitors come back here, year after year....even those who "never go to the same place twice on holiday"... the second time is not a holiday, it's a homecoming, for people of like mind. Kalkan is just unique.

And there is nothing more unique, in this most unique of towns, than the Customs House & Apartments!

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